Senses play an essential role in one’s ability to gather information and participate in the environment around them. As part of the aging process, everyone will experience a change in sensory capabilities; however, the degree of these changes will vary. In general, there will be a slowing down on organ systems that lead to a decline a cellular activity and expected physiological changes.
By the fourth decade of an individual’s life span, there is a decrease in the pupil size accompanied by a slow in the response time to changes in light. These changes mean that older adults require up to three times the amount of illumination to see versus younger people (Aging online). Attributed with the changes of vision are an increase in nearsightedness because focusing takes longer, thus, making small prints difficult to read. Thickening and yellowing of the lens of the eye are normal with aging. As a result, light diffraction, increased sensitivity to light, and a decrease of one’s depth perception occur (Aging online).
The aging process yields changes to the sense of hearing. Most individuals will experience a change in the bones of the ear and the cochlear hair cells of the inner ear (Aging online). This results in a decrease of sensitivity to high frequency tones and decrease in the ability to distinguish similar pitches (Aging online). Drastic hearing loss is not labeled an average change of aging. However, about thirty percent of elderly people have a hearing impairment (Aging online). These are attributed to things beyond the normal scope of getting older. Such significant hearing losses are the result of damage to the hearing organ, the peripheral nervous system, or the central nervous system (Aging online).
Both taste and smell are altered with time. They function together for environmental safety perceptions. Taste and smell are used to detect spoiled and raw foods, smoke, and fumes. Some people will experience a decrease in the number of taste buds available for use. This becomes most noticeable, however, after the age of eighty (Aging online). The decline in smell is less probable than the decline in the taste sensory. Most issues concerning the sense of smell are from non-typical problems associated with aging. Most occur as a result of blockage or a disease.
The most significant change happens to one’s cardio-vascular system. These changes become more prominent approaching the age of eighty. While aging, it is normal for the heart muscle to undergo atrophy mostly in the left ventricle (Aging online). The left ventricle pumps oxygenated blood out of the heart; atrophy causes calcification of heart valves, loss of elasticity of artery walls, and intra-artery deposits known as atherosclerosis (Aging online). A reduction of blood flow from the aforementioned conditions leads to reduced stamina as a result of less oxygen being exchanged for the body to utilize. The reduction could develop into lower kidney and liver functions and a lessening of cellular nourishment (Aging online). If this persists, the individual becomes vulnerable and open to a slower rate of healing and a reduced response and coping ability to stress (Aging online).
Therefore, the aging process takes its toll on all aspects of the human body. The outward signs of aging are more immediately noticeable than the inward decline of the body’s organs. Yet, the effect on the organs and systems may impair one’s ability to maintain the safety on one’s environment. The positive aspect though, remains that most normal changes are able to be equalized by the aid of an apparatus or treatment. The aging process does not guarantee a lessening of the quality of life, nor does it always mean something detrimental will occur in one’s health.